Rep. Hakeem Jeffries is calling upon the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) inspector general to investigate potential fraud in the insurance claims process for people who were affected by Hurricane Sandy.
“Superstorm Sandy devastated many communities throughout New York City,” said Jeffries, whose district includes Howard Beach and other areas hit by Sandy. “Homes were destroyed, businesses damaged and lives turned upside down.”
“In the wake of this tragedy, FEMA failed to oversee a fair and expeditious processing of flood insurance claims,” he continued. “The public deserves to know what happened, why it happened and how we can prevent it from ever happening again.”
In New York, over 300,000 housing units were damaged and more than 260,000 businesses were affected in the 2012 storm. Jeffries charges that claims made by home and business owners were tampered with.
In a letter to FEMA, Jeffries penned, “It has become increasingly apparent that a systemic fraud was perpetrated on a vulnerable group of tax-paying Americans in need of immediate financial relief.”
“In multiple instances, engineering reports regarding storm damage were apparently altered without the knowledge of the author,” the letter continued. “Equally troublesome, in other cases engineers appear to have been pressured to inappropriately reach specific conclusions that would lower insurance company payments.”
The letter goes on to say, “Given the urgency of this situation, an independent and comprehensive review of the disposition of Superstorm Sandy-related flood insurance claims is critical. In light of the serious nature of the allegations, FEMA cannot serve as judge and jury of its own potential wrongdoing.”
Joining Jeffries in signing the letter are U.S. Representatives Charlie Rangel, Steve Israel, Gregory Meeks, Grace Meng, Yvette Clarke, Jose Serrano and Carolyn Maloney.